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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-02-09

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Monday, 9 February 2009 Issue No: 3117

CONTENTS

  • [01] FM chairs panel at Munich Security Conf.
  • [02] FM Bakoyannis holds brief discussion with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden
  • [03] FM holds discussions at Munich Security Conference
  • [04] Bakoyannis in Tirana Monday
  • [05] Proposal on holding next elections with new electoral law self-evident, Pavlopoulos says
  • [06] Three new opinion polls
  • [07] SYRIZA parliamentary rep on crisis
  • [08] LAOS leader does not see early elections
  • [09] Employment minister on 'targeted' actions
  • [10] Zootechnia international stockbreeding, poultry exhibition
  • [11] Milk consumption statistics
  • [12] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday
  • [13] Farmers complete pull-out from Promachonas
  • [14] President at Pan-Epirote event
  • [15] President Karolos Papoulias delivers awards to pupils, athletes from Aegean islands
  • [16] Council of State revokes refusal of asylum to minor
  • [17] Parliament president inaugurates caricature exhibition
  • [18] Attica municipalities organise peace Marathon for Gaza
  • [19] Young man's mutilated body found in Koropi
  • [20] Spanish Air Force aircraft lands in Thessaloniki after facing engine trouble
  • [21] Border guards arrest illegal immigrants in Florina
  • [22] Robbery at Internet-cafe in Thessaloniki
  • [23] Super League soccer results
  • [24] Cloudy and wet on Monday
  • [25] The Sunday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance
  • [26] President says UN Committee's reply is clear
  • [27] Spokesman: No deadlines for Cyprus talks

  • [01] FM chairs panel at Munich Security Conf.

    Munich (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis chaired a panel on "Nato, Russia, Oil, Gas and the Middle East: The future of European security", in her capacity as chairperson of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) for 2009, in the context of the 45th Munich Security Conference.

    Also taking part in the panel on Saturday were Estonia president Toomas Ilves, Ukraine prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, British foreign secretary David Miliband, and US Congresswoman (House of Representatives) Jane Harman, who replaced the originally scheduled Senator and former US presidential candidate John McCain.

    Below is the foreign minister's address to the panel:

    "Let me begin with a snap-shot of where we stand in the discussions on (Russian) President Medvedev's and (French) President Sarkozy's proposals at least in terms of process from the perspective of the OSCE chair.

    Most, also, agree that the OSCE is the appropriate forum for such a dialogue to take place. I am glad to note that those countries who had initially expressed reservations about the OSCE have now accepted that it is the best structure available.

    It goes without saying that -provided that there is agreement by all 56 OSCE participating states- Greece stands ready to organize meetings at any level that could launch, or more generally facilitate, such a dialogue.

    Now, putting on my national hat and without wanting to prejudice our discussion in any way, permit me to quickly touch on five quick points:

    First, discussions about European security usually begin with a reference to the fall of the Berlin Wall - and justifiably so. The world has never been the same since. It is a careless oversimplification, however headline grabbing and sensational, to speak of a return to the Cold War.

    Second, let's be frank. As the current crisis demonstrates we face common threats and common challenges. Needless to stress the significance to this panel of Russia, our partner in peace. Therefore, the least we can do is to take Moscow's proposal extremely seriously and engage in a meaningful and hopefully fruitful dialogue.

    Third, the way things stand today dividing soft and hard security amounts to drawing a line in the sand. Security is a two-way road. Aristotle in his Metaphysics argued that "the whole is more than the sum of its parts." Indeed, it is necessary to focus on the big picture and adopt a holistic approach. In light of current events, for example, would it be possible to ignore energy security?

    Fourth, we have to look for our common interests and -why not?- common values. Respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law, observing territorial integrity, refraining from the threat or use of force, are the cornerstones of our system and form the basis for our co-operative security. After all international law remains the most profound realpolitik.

    Fifth and final, is that there is a new kid on the block: the European Union. Particularly in view of the new US administration, we must assess the global role of the EU. We need a self-confident Europe that speaks with one voice. I have no illusions that there are different views within our Union but I would like to see a Europe and a USA working together as equal partners.

    In the meantime and as our discussions unfold we must not waste any time and move forward with the toolbox that we have in our hands. As Frank - Walter Steinmeier has said, diplomacy 'cannot afford fair-weather institutions'.

    On one hand, we should support the reactivation of NATO-Russia Council so that it reaches its full potential as soon as possible. We have plenty of potential areas of cooperation - one needs to look no further than the obvious: Afghanistan.

    On the other hand, we must boost the EU's neighborhood policy and our eastern partnership. We welcome the initiative of the Czech Presidency. After all, the European Union is the biggest and most successful post-war exercise in conflict prevention.

    And of course, we need to intensify our efforts to deal with the so-called frozen conflicts, which, as shown last August in Georgia, can turn hot very quickly.

    We have two tools here: the EU as proven by the intervention of the French Presidency last August and the OSCE which finds itself in the unique position of being the only European Security Organization that can rely on the political will and the resources of all major stakeholders.

    Here I would like to point that a major challenge for our Chairmanship is the continuation of the OSCE work in Georgia. Our focus remains humanitarian. We are convinced that the volatile situation on the ground requires more and not less OSCE presence."

    [02] FM Bakoyannis holds brief discussion with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden

    Munich (ANA-MPA)

    U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden called for the support of his country's European partners, regarding taking responsibility for some of the detainees at the Guantanamo prison, during Saturday's initial presentation abroad of the new U.S. government's foreign policy, at the 45th International Munich Conference on Security, which is also being attended by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who held a brief discussion with him on the sidelines of the Conference.

    [03] FM holds discussions at Munich Security Conference

    Munich (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)

    Foreign Minister and OSCE chairwoman for the current year Dora Bakoyannis expressed satisfaction on Saturday over the content of the 45th International Munich Conference on Security in which she participated.

    Bakoyannis, who chaired a panel on the theme of "NATO, Russia, oil, natural gas and the Middle East, the future of European security", with the participation of Estonian President Tomas Ilves, Ukrainian Prime Minister Julia Timosenko and others, held brief discussions with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    Referring to the event, the foreign minister spoke of an "extremely important Conference" and stressed that "they were all here and what is important was that it took place at a time when the entire world is expecting a new beginning, it is expecting progress in 2009 on very many issues which are preoccupying the international community."

    Bakoyannis further said that "we had the first submission of the views of the new American administration, through vice President Joe Biden, which were received favourably by the majority of those present, and at the same time positions by Europeans and others on peace, security and the strategy that we must have in 2009 on very many issues."

    Lastly, she underlined the considerable advantage of such meetings, namely that the participants have the possibility of "speaking far more openly than in ordinary forums."

    [04] Bakoyannis in Tirana Monday

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, in her capacity as chairperson of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) for 2009, will travel to Tirana on Monday in the framework of her Balkan countries' tour.

    Bakoyannis will be meeting with Albanian President Bamir Topi, Prime Minister Sali Berisha and her counterpart Lulzim Basha.

    [05] Proposal on holding next elections with new electoral law self-evident, Pavlopoulos says

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, speaking in an interview with the newspaper "Ependitis" (Investor), said that his proposal for the holding of the next elections with the new electoral law was self-evident.

    "It will secure governmental stability when the elections take place," he said, adding that "this does not mean election-mongering" and criticising the main opposition PASOK party for not accepting it and for observing an "irresponsible stance."

    Pavlopoulos denied election scenarios and stressed that "there is no question of early elections. We shall exhaust the four-year tenure. The only possibility of us going to elections is in 2010, if PASOK does not cooperate for the election of the President of the Republic."

    Asked to comment on the reappearance of terrorism, on the occasion of the attack on the police station at Korydalos, the minister said that investigations are continuing and that "I hope that we shall be led to positive results soon." Also referring to the shooting incident outside the residence of the U.S. ambassador in Athens earlier this week, he termed it unfortunate and isolated.

    [06] Three new opinion polls

    Three new opinion polls appearing in Sunday newspapers indicated leads of 3.5 to 3.9 percentage points by main opposition PASOK over the ruling New Democracy (ND) party.

    According to a KAPA Research poll, the results of which appeared in the Sunday edition of To Vima newspaper, PASOK was leading with 32.4 percent with regard to voter intent for national elections (which party the respondent would vote for if elections were held the following day), against 28.9 percent for ND, 7.7 percent for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), 7.3 percent for SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left parliamentary alliance led by Synaspismos), 4.2 percent for the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, and 3.3 percent for the Ecologists-Greens party.

    The same poll incidated PASOK leading by 29.8 percent in voter intent for European Parliament elections, against 27.7 percent for ND, 8.4 percent for SYRIZA, 8.2 percent for the KKE, 4.5 percent for LAOS and 3.9 percent for the Ecologists-Greens.

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis, however, was considered by 40.7 percent of the respondents as the most suitable for prime minister, against 34.1 percent who opted for PASOK leader George Papandreou.

    Regarding the anticipated victor in the event of parliamentary elections, regardless of personal voting preference, PASOK was leading with 53.5 percent, against 31.1 percent for ND.

    Further, 54.8 percent of the respondents were against early general elections, compared with 39.8 percent who wanted early elections.

    In an MRB opinion poll appearing in the Sunday edition of Eleftheros Typos newspaper, voter preference with respect to general elections was 32.5 percent for PASOK, 28.6 percent for ND, 7.8 percent for SYRIZA, 7.2 percent for the KKE, 4.7 percent for LAOS, and 2.7 percent for the Ecologists-Greens. Regarding Europarliament elections, the voter preference was 30.3 percent for PASOK, 27.5 percent for ND, 9.4 per;cent for SYRIZA, 7.8 percent for the KKE, 5.3 percent for LAOS, and 3.5 percent for the Ecologists-Greens.

    In a Metron Analysis opinion poll appearing in the Sunday edition of Avghi newspaper, voter intent for national elections stood at 31.2 percent for PASOK, 27.6 percent for ND, 7.3 percent for SYRIZA, 7.1 percent for the KKE, 4.2 percent for LAOS and 3.8 percent for the Ecologists-Greens.

    Regarding voter intent for Europarliament elections, PASOK was leading with 29.0 percent, against 26.5 percent for ND, 8.2 percent for SYRIZA, 6.7 percent for the KKE, 5.0 percent for LAOS, and 3.0 percent for the Ecologists-Greens.

    [07] SYRIZA parliamentary rep on crisis

    The current international financial crisis will create a "political asphyxiation" that will force the government to opt for early general elections, Coalition of the Radical Left (the SYN-led SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) parliamentary spokesman and member of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) central political committee member Fotis Kouvelis predicted in an interview appearing in the newspaper RealNews on Sunday.

    Kouvelis opined that the crisis could be tackled by "anti-neoliberal" forces, which could "give a reply on an alternative political proposal for governance".

    Asked whether main opposition PASOK had "a place" in such an alliance, Kouvelis said he was not averse to such a prospect, but added that there were "conditions" for such an alliance, such as the "progrmmatic agreements that could convert the policy agreements into an every-day, political result to the benefit of society", noting, however, that "these conditions do not exist today".

    [08] LAOS leader does not see early elections

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis opined that prime minister Costas Karamanlis would not call early general elections, in statements during a press conference while on a visit to Katerini on the weekend.

    The people were fearful with everything that was going on, Karatzaferis said, adding that there was a growing social crisis, while the prime minister was unable to give solutions to the problems and was plagued by an increasing number of phobic syndromes, including his government's marginal majority of 151 deputies in the 300-member parliament.

    Despite the prime minister's indirect but clear threat to his associates of early general elections, he was doing everything he could to remain in power, Karatzaferis said.

    The LAOS leader further said that teh government's economic policy was not "convincing", adding that the prime minister claimed he has a program for existing the crisis "which, however, his ministers have no knowedge of".

    Financial News

    [09] Employment minister on 'targeted' actions

    Employment and social protection minister Fani Palli-Petralia outlined the "targeted" actions of her ministry "in the framework of the government's overall planning", aimed at Greece's maintaining its comparitively better position vis-a-vis other European countries throughout the duration of the international financial crisis, in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of Eleftheros Typos newspaper.

    The ministry's actions, she added, concerned reinforcement of the construction sector, tourism and employment.

    Beginning this year, the ministry was expanding the Labor Housing Organization's (OEK) construction program with 2,692 homes, so as to better supply the market, while the ministry's Operational Program for the 2007-2013 programming period contained targeted programs for career orientation in the construction sector, focusing on contemporary specializations of big demand.

    The orientation programs for the tourism sector were also directed in the same direction, with obligatory absorption by the enterprises taking part in the program set at 30 percent of the unemployed attending the orientation programs, and the aim of converting the seasonal unemployment benefit into a working benefit.

    Replying to questions, Petralia reiterated that unemployment was predicted by the ESYE (national statistics service) to close at nearly 7.4 percent this year, which she said was approximately one percentage point lower that the European Commission's forecast of 8.3 percent for Greece, adding that a more complete picture would be available in April when ESYE announced its first quarterly national accounts and the statistics on the tourism sector.

    [10] Zootechnia international stockbreeding, poultry exhibition

    Newly-appointed Deputy Agricultural Development Minister Mihalis Papadopoulos is expected to have consecutive meetings with the administrations of the Prefectural Administrations Union (ENAE) and of ATEbank, as well as with stockbreeders' representatives, in the coming weeks to seek solutions for important issues, such as the granting of interest-free loans requested by producers.

    Papadopoulos made an initial assessment of proposals made by the farming sector, in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on the occasion of the 6th "Zootechnia" international stockbreeding and poultry farming exhibition.

    "On Tuesday or on Wednesday I will be meeting the administration of ENAE, while at the end of next week I will be having a meeting with the Governor of ATEbank, D. Miliakos, from which I believe that results will be produced," the deputy minister said.

    [11] Milk consumption statistics

    Low-fat milk is preferred by a majority 39.7 percent of Thessaloniki consumers, with the biggest proportion (71.9 percent) consuming between half a liter to one liter per day, according to the results of a market survey that were presented on Sunday in the context of the Zootechnia exhibition.

    The survey was conducted by the polling company "Interview" on February 5 in the northern Greek capital, on a sampling of 405 adults.

    Also, the majority of consumers opt for milk produced by the major dairy companies, purchased usually from neighborhood supermarkets or large supermarket chains, with a preference for tetrapack packaging.

    According to the survey, most consumers believe that milk is expensive in Greece, but concede that price does not comprise the criterion in their choice of milk brand.

    The survey further indicated that 45.5 percent of Thessaloniki inhabitants purchase milk daily, 27.3 percent every second day, 17.4 percent once a week, and 9.9 percent once a month.

    Regarding daily milk consumption, 71.9 percent of the respondents said they consume between 1/2-1 liter per day, 19 percent condume 1-1 1/2 liter daily, 5 percent consume 1 1/2-2 liters daily, and 4.1 percent consume 2 liters or more daily.

    Also, 39.7 percent consume low fat fresh milk (1.5 percent fat), 34.7 percent consume full fat (3.5 percent) fresh milk, and 7.4 percent consume non-fat (0 percent) fresh milk, while 3.3 percent consume full-fat concentrated milk, 4.1 percent consume low-fat concentrated milk, 9.1 percent consume UHT milk, and 0.8 percent consume chocolate milk.

    [12] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.289

    Pound sterling 0.877

    Danish kroner 7.511

    Swedish kroner 10.65

    Japanese yen 117.63

    Swiss franc 1.513

    Norwegian kroner 8.843

    Canadian dollar 1.612

    Australian dollar 1.956

    [13] Farmers complete pull-out from Promachonas

    The last of the farmers blockading the Promachonas border post with Bulgaria finally departed on Sunday, 20 days after they first began their mobilisation, after extracting a promise from Agriculture Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis in talks held on Friday that he would satisfy a series of their demands.

    Their departure was met with great relief across the border and was among the top news stories in neighbouring Bulgaria, since the tractor road blocks had greatly disrupted its transport sector but had also hurt areas dependent on tourism from Greece.

    The six "Non-aligned Farmers' Unions" of Serres warned as they departed, however, that the government had until 20th March in which to carry out its promises, after which the farmers would be back at the Promachonas border post, with all that this entailed.

    General News

    [14] President at Pan-Epirote event

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias attended an event held Sunday by the Pan-Epirote Federation of Greece at the Peace and Friendship Stadium near Piraeus.

    The event, which brought together thousands of Epirotes to enjoy local dances and songs and the cutting of the Federation's annual New Year pitta, was also attended by interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, employment minister Fani Palli-Petralia, deputy foreign minister Theodors Kassimis, deputy economy minister Antonis Bezas, ruling New Democracy party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis, and numerous MPs.

    [15] President Karolos Papoulias delivers awards to pupils, athletes from Aegean islands

    President Karolos Papoulias delivered awards to pupils, students and athletes from Aegean islands who have distinguished themselves in their activities, during a ceremony held at the Old Parliament building in Athens on Saturday.

    The event was organised by the Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy ministry and was attended by the Minister and Deputy Minister Anastasis Papaligouras and Panos Kammenos, former Aegean ministers Antonis Fousas, Elizabeth Papazoi and Aristotelis Pavlidis, former minister Apostolos Kratsas and mayors from Aegean islands.

    The awards ceremony was carried out in the framework of the ministry's policy to lift the exclusion of islands.

    Addressing the ceremony, Papaligouras referred to the importance of the awards for both society and those receiving the awards as well, saying that it is a paramount social function since it strengthens the feeling of participation.

    Education and Religion Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos sent a message in which he stressed that education is the foundation stone of society, adding that it is the government's duty to invest in education since it is an investment for the future.

    [16] Council of State revokes refusal of asylum to minor

    Greece's supreme administrative court, the Council of State, has revoked a ministerial decision denying asylum to an unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan, who had entered Greece as an illegal immigrant in November 2001.

    The young man, then aged just 15, and had been arrested by the Kos coast guard when he attempted to enter Greece from neighbouring Turkey, unaccompanied by a parent or guardian. His application to be given asylum as a political refugee, claiming fear of persecution in his native Afghanistan due to his racial background and religion, had been denied by the then public order ministry three times.

    Specifically, the boy claimed to be a Shi'ite Muslim of the Hazara tribe and that he had been forced to leave Afghanistan due to the civil war and the religious and political turmoil in his native country, believing that he would be personally targeted if he returned. He had also requested to be given a temporary residence permit on humanitarian grounds.

    Since arriving in Greece, the youth had been living in a hostel for underage minors on Crete, where he had been attending classes.

    The CoS revoked the ministry's decision as insufficiently justified, finding that the ministry had failed to observe laws that obliged it to investigate the validity of the claims put forward by the boy, who as a minor was entitled to a special protective status and guarantees under international, European and Greek laws.

    The CoS decision noted, also, that the ministry had failed to assign a special temporary commissioner to the minor, as it was obliged to do.

    [17] Parliament president inaugurates caricature exhibition

    Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas inaugurated the "Caricature in Europe of the 27" exhibition in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Friday night.

    Sioufas announced, on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony, the establishment of a Caricature Museum that will be housed in the next two years in one of Parliament's neoclassical buildings in Athens. The Museum will host both old and modern works by Greek caricaturists.

    "Politicians must, apart from criticism exercised on them, also be able to endure satire coming from the caricaturist's pen," Sioufas said.

    [18] Attica municipalities organise peace Marathon for Gaza

    A peace Marathon in support of the beleaguered Palestinian people in Gaza was organised in Athens on Sunday by the regional union of Attica municipal authorities TEDKNA, in collaboration with the Greek athletics federation SEGAS and with the participation of the Greek Paralympics Committee, the Youth and Sports Organisation (ONA) of Athens municipality and other municipal sports associations in Attica.

    The 10-kilometre marathon began at Dafni Monastery and ended at Syntagma Square, while its central message was "Our heart beats in Gaza". More than 500 athletes took part, while the event kicked off with a torch relay from the Elefsina archaeological site, with 55 torch bearers from the 5th and 6th years of local primary schools in Elefsina and Haidari, who carried the torch to Dafni Monastery, where the cauldron was lit to mark the start of the race.

    Among those who reached the finish line in Syntagma Square were three people with disabilities - Kyriaki Ispahanidou, Panagiotis Papavassiliou and Mihalis Aslanoglou - all three of which received an honorary distinction for taking part.

    [19] Young man's mutilated body found in Koropi

    The horribly mutilated body of a 20-year-old man from the town of Koropi in Attica was discovered at around midday on Sunday, near the town's former dump. According to police, the young man had been missing since Thursday night and they are treating the case as a brutal murder.

    The victim's hands and feet were tied with his own shoelaces when he was discovered, while police say that he was most likely murdered at some other location and transported to where he was found by the perpetrators.

    According to an announcement, the young man was last seen by his family at 10:30 on Thursday night, when he told his mother that he was going out to meet a friend and give him a mobile phone. An hour later, he phoned his mother again and said that he would be coming home soon.

    When he failed to return some time later, his mother tried to call him on his mobile again and an unknown man answered the call and said that her son was being held, demanding 35,000 euros as ransom in order to set him free. The demand was repeated to the young man's father, while they threatened to kill the 20-year-old if the family contacted the police.

    After that, the parents had no further contact with the kidnappers and his body was discovered on Sunday by two local residents that were out on a stroll.

    According to the coroner that examined the body, his death occurred about 35 hours before the body was discovered. The precise cause of death will be determined during an autopsy that will take place on Monday.

    Police are not convinced that this is a clear-cut case of kidnapping for ransom and are investigating other possible motives for the crime.

    [20] Spanish Air Force aircraft lands in Thessaloniki after facing engine trouble

    A Spanish Air Force C-130 aircraft landed safely at Macedonia airport in Thessaloniki after a malfunction developed in one of its engines.

    According to airport officials, the aircraft with nine people on board was scheduled to arrive in Thessaloniki on Friday afternoon. However, before landing it notified authorities of the problem appearing in one of the engines.

    All the necessary measures for such cases were taken, but the aircraft succeeded in landing safely without anyone being hurt.

    [21] Border guards arrest illegal immigrants in Florina

    Border guards from the Krystalopigi checkpoint, in the northern prefecture of Florina, arrested four illegal immigrants and four immigrant smugglers on charges of transporting people entering the country illegally.

    The illegal immigrants, who were being taken to the city of Thessaloniki in two cars, had each paid the smugglers 300 euros. The cars were confiscated, as well as 10 mobile phones belonging to the immigrant smugglers.

    [22] Robbery at Internet-cafe in Thessaloniki

    Two armed men with their faces covered entered an Internet-cafe in the region of Kalamaria in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, late on Friday night and robbed the store of 500 euros. They also stabbed and injured a customer who tried to stop them, who was taken to a hospital in Thessaloniki for treatment.

    Sports

    [23] Super League soccer results

    Olympiakos Piraeus retained its commanding lead in the Greek Super League after beating Panthrakikos Komotini 2-0 in a match played away over the weekend. Panathinaikos Athens downed PAOK Thessaloniki 3-0 at home and climbed to second while PAOK fell to third place in the standings respectively.

    In other action:

    Asteras Tripoli-Panseraikos Serres 3-0

    Aris Thessaloniki-Panionios Athens 1-0

    Xanthi-Levadiakos Livadia 4-0

    Ergotelis Crete-Iraklis Thessaloniki 0-1

    Larissa-AEK Athens 1-1

    Thrasyvoulos Athens -OFI Crete 1-2

    Standings after 21 weeks of play:

    1. Olympiakos 54 points

    2. Panathinaikos 42

    3. PAOK 40

    4. AEK 35

    5. Aris 31

    6. Larissa 31

    7. Panionios 28

    8. Xanthi 28

    9. Panthrakikos 25

    10. Iraklis 25

    11. Asteras 24

    12. Ergotelis 23

    13. Levadiakos 22

    14. OFI 17

    15. Panseraikos 15

    16. Thrasyvoulos 13

    Weather Forecast

    [24] Cloudy and wet on Monday

    Cloudy weather with showers, storms and mainly southwesterly winds is forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with wind velocity reaching 4-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 2C and 18C. Cloud and scattered showers in Athens, with southwesterly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 8C to 17C. Same in Thessaloniki, with winds at 3-5 beaufort and temperatures ranging from 5C to 13C.

    [25] The Sunday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance

    Political developments and speculation of early general elections, and the state of the economy were the main front-page items in Sunday's newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Euro-elections test for Karamanlis - If the Cassandras (doom-sayers) are belied on early general elections...".

    APOGEVMATINI: "10,000 new jobs in tourism sector - Measures to fortify the low-salary and pension earners".

    AVGHI: "They're toying with elections, investing on the crisis".

    AVRIANI: "Electoral alert following the narrowing of the gap (main opposition PASOK's lead over ruling New Democracy) in opinion polls".

    CHORA: "New scales in pensions - Governmental turn-about to social policy".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Early elections prospect 'burned' - Difference (PASOK lead over ND) at 3.9 percent in event of national elections, at 2.8 percent in event of European Parliament elections".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "First threat: Dismissal - Survey: SOS for the Greek worker and the crisis - Instead of the salary, the priority now is on keeping his job".

    ETHNOS: "Karamanlis' final dice roll for early general elections - He's giving out 'tax-exemptions', promising hirings, and awaiting the (new) opinion polls".

    KATHIMERINI: "Commando 'patrols' by ELAS (Greek Police) aroud the police stations" after the recent attack by an urban guerrilla attack on the Korydallos police station.

    LOGOS: "Election-talk and financial crisis causing...introversion in ND".

    NIKI: "The government falling apart - Mutual backstabbing among ministers aimed at 'succession' of Karamanlis (at the party helm)".

    PROTO THEMA (weekly): "Bankruptcy due to lack of governance".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Popular alliance and struggle against the black front comprising ND, PASOK, EU and SEB (Federation of Greek Industries)".

    TO VIMA: "The duel begins - PASOK and Karamanlis ahead (in opinion polls)".

    VRADYNI: "Who will pay fewer taxes - Those who will benefit from the economic policy arrangements".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [26] President says UN Committee's reply is clear

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias said over the weekend that the reply of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee to a request by the Cypriot government for guidance regarding the Cypriot-flagged ship ''Monchegorsk'', which docked at Limassol port, allegedly carrying weapons, "is clear and final".

    "The Committee is clear", the president said. Asked whether the Committee decision is final, he replied "I believe that it is final and we do not need to refer to the Committee again".

    "I was not expecting them to give us instructions. We are a member state of the UN, a country with sovereign rights and I believe that the UNSC is treating us in a correct manner", he added.

    Asked why the ship must be controlled again, the Cypriot president said that if the government of Cyprus decides to keep the cargo, it has to know in full detail its contents.

    The Cypriot president also said that soon he would announce his decisions regarding the reply of the UN Committee on Cyprus' request for guidance.

    The Committee's reply was handed over Friday night to Cyprus' UN Permanent Representative Ambassador Minas Hadjimichael by Japanese chairman of the Committee Ambassador Yukio Takasu.

    It has been alleged that the Cypriot-flagged ship, of Russian interests, which originated from Iran, was carrying arms and it was forced by a US military vessel to dock at Limassol port to have its cargo inspected, in order to establish whether there has been a breach of UN Security Council sanctions, as claimed.

    The Cyprus government has submitted to the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee a report on the findings of two inspections of the cargo of the ship, conducted on January 29 and February 2 by a team of experts from the Republic of Cyprus.

    The Japanese presidency of the Sanctions Committee examined the report on the findings of the inspections of the cargo of ship and handed over its response.

    A member of the UN Security Council has said that the contents of the UN Committee's reply remains confidential.

    [27] Spokesman: No deadlines for Cyprus talks

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has said that there are no deadlines concerning the achievement of a political solution of the Cyprus problem.

    Stephanou noted that the Greek Cypriot side participates in the talks with a view to reach a solution the soonest possible.

    Negotiations began early September 2008 between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat with a view to find a political settlement in Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974.

    "The Greek Cypriot side is doing everything possible. We submit positions at the negotiating table, which serve the agreed basis for a solution, a solution as provided in the relevant UN resolutions", he pointed out.

    Invited to comment on press information that this November is considered a deadline for concluding the negotiations, Stephanou stressed there are no deadlines.

    "We have no deadlines in front of us. We discuss with the aim to reach a solution the soonest possible", he said.

    Replying to questions, the spokesman said that Turkey's EU accession course is one of the tools, which could contribute to the achievement of a solution.

    "One of the tools we use to help efforts to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem is to exploit all those possibilities we are given through Turkey's accession course, bearing in mind that the Republic of Cyprus is a member state of the EU and through its EU course, Ankara has undertaken responsibilities which have to do with the EU and the Republic of Cyprus as well", he noted.

    The spokesman added that Cyprus supports Turkey's EU accession course, but "not without conditions", explaining that "Turkey has undertaken some responsibilities and we demand it meets those responsibilities".

    Cyprus, Stephanou added, asks the EU to exert its pressure on Turkey to cooperate for the achievement of a just, viable and functional solution of the Cyprus problem.

    Asked about a recent meeting between the aides of the leaders of the two communities, Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou and Turkish Cypriot leader's advisor Ozdil Nami, the spokesman said they discussed about the chapter of governance and touched upon the convergences and the divergences on that issue.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS


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